Are Smartphones Giving All Of Us The Symptoms Of ADHD? Recent Study Suggests The Distraction Problem Might Be Worse Than We Thought

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From Butt Dialing To Phantom Vibrations: How Smart Phones Giving Us All The Symptoms Of ADHD? One Study Says Yes.

There is a game some friends play when they go out to eat together: everyone at the table has to put his or her cell phone in the center of the table face down at the beginning of the evening.

Dinner proceeds as normal, drinks, appetizers, entrées–the only difference is the conversation is uninterrupted by people constantly checking their phones, texting, calling, or posting political rants on social media sites.

And here’s the kicker: the first person in the group to give in and check his or phone has to foot the bill for the entire group.

If that sounds tortuous, you’re not alone. A recent study shows that the way we use our smart phones today gives many of us behaviors that mimic the symptoms of ADHD.

It has only been ten years since the introduction of the first iPhone (is that really all??) and already more people check their phone first thing in the morning, before they brush their teeth or even say hello to whoever might happen to be in bed with them.

So, all the anecdotal evidence points to the pervasiveness of distraction and hyperactivity concerning our smartphones, but now a research team at the University of Virginia has put together a study attempting to quantify these symptoms–importantly, in a group selected from non-ADHD sufferers.

For the first week, half the participants had to put their phones on the “do not disturb” settings, minimizing alerts, and put their phones far out of reach and out of sight. The other half kept their phones close by and with alerts set to normal. In the second week, they reversed the group halves.

They then measured inattentiveness and hyperactivity by querying participants as to how often they experienced 18 symptoms of ADHD over the course of each of the two weeks. They based their criteria for diagnosing ADHD in adults on the American Psychiatric Association’s Diagnostic and Statistical Manual.

The results were perhaps unsurprising: more frequent interruptions from their phones made people feel less attentive and more hyperactive, with examples of the former including things like making careless mistakes, forgetting to pay a bill or experiencing difficulty paying attention or listening to others.

And while this study in no way purports to suggest that smart phones “give you ADHD,” especially given that ADHD is a neruodevelopmental disorder with complex causes, it should nonetheless serve as a wake-up call–and not the kind you should send to voice mail either.

Are our smartphones afflicting us all with symptoms of ADHD?

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